Resnick Institute


A Soft Material Approach towards Grand Energy Challenges—An Emerging Class of Functional Polymers

Nanostructured materials have become critically important in many areas of technology, ranging from renewable energy, electronics, photonics, to biology and medicine, because of their unusual physical/chemical properties due to confined dimensions of such materials.

This talk will present a new class of polymeric materials we developed recently: nanostructured functional polymer gels that are hierarchically porous, and structurally tunable in terms of size, shape, composition, hierarchical porosity, and chemical interfaces.

These organic gels as functional organic building blocks offer an array of advantageous features such as intrinsic 3D nanostructured conducting framework, exceptional electrical conductivity and electrochemical activity to store and transport ions, synthetically tunable structures and chemical interfaces, and they have been demonstrated powerful for a number of significant applications in energy and environmental technologies.

Several latest examples on functional organic gels-enabled advanced technological applications such as high-energy lithium batteries, thermoresponsive safe electrolytes, solar steam generation and water desalination, and atmospheric water harvesting, will be discussed to illustrate ‘structure-derived multifunctionality’ of this special class of materials.

About Guihua

Guihua Yu is an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering at University of Texas at Austin. He received his BS degree with the highest honor in chemistry from University of Science and Technology of China, and earned his PhD from Harvard University, followed by postdoctoral research at Stanford University.

His research interests include rational synthesis and self-assembly of functional organic and hybrid organic-inorganic nanomaterials, and fundamental understanding of their chemical/physical properties for advanced energy and environmental technologies.

He has published over 100 scientific papers in prominent journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Nanotech., Nature Commun., PNAS, JACS, Adv. Mater., Angewandte Chemie, Energy Environ. Sci., Nano Lett., amongst others.

Yu has received a number of awards and honors for young investigators, including recently Nano Letters Young Investigator Lectureship Award, Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, TMS Society Early Career Faculty Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, Chemical Society Reviews Emerging Investigator Lectureship, MIT Technology Review ‘35 Top Innovators Under 35’.